NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is expanding its partnership with the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to collaborate on advanced and in-space manufacturing.

Marshall Director Jody Singer and Alabama President Stuart Bell signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the university’s Rose Administration Building shortly before the Space Days at UA official kickoff.

“NASA is actively partnering with universities and industry from across the country to leverage and accelerate technology development in key areas, especially areas that will make it possible to sustainably live and work on the lunar surface, achieving the Artemis vision,” Singer said.

Artemis is NASA’s path to the Moon and the next step in human exploration of our solar system. Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, assisted by innovative partners, technologies and systems. NASA is investing in innovative in-space manufacturing technologies — such as additive manufacturing, in-situ resource utilization, advanced welding — that will aid in developing the technological solutions needed to enable human missions to the Moon, Mars and other deep space destinations.

“Additive manufacturing is a rapidly evolving, disruptive technology,” Singer said. “As NASA continues to invest in in-space additive technology innovations, we welcome collaborations with industry and academia to develop these technologies. I applaud the University of Alabama for pursuing the development of advanced technologies that will help NASA achieve our mission.”

Marshall has worked with the University of Alabama through multiple Space Act Agreements since 2015. Now, the university will enhance its core curriculum in areas of advanced and in-space manufacturing and foster new collaborations to further this emerging technology. Through Space Act Agreements and other partnership mechanisms, NASA shares resources, personnel and expertise, facilities and equipment, and technology to advance aerospace research or achieve mission goals.

Marshall has entered Space Act Agreements with numerous colleges, including in-state institutions Auburn University, Alabama A&M University in Huntsville and the University of North Alabama in Florence. Marshall also partnered with Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the University of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana to form the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Marshall is the lead center for NASA’s In-space Manufacturing Project, which develops additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, technologies to enable print on-demand replacement parts for equipment and machines operating on the International Space Station. NASA’s continued investments and innovations in in-space additive manufacturing technologies will enable the autonomy and sustainability required to live and work in space, as NASA looks to establish a permanent presence at the Gateway, lunar surface and destinations further out into the solar system.

Marshall continues to forge new partnerships with universities to further the nation’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and cultivate innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce development. Marshall is committed to collaborations that strengthen the nation’s STEM education and workforce pipeline by engaging students and teachers in NASA’s missions. 

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